Non-alcoholic wines and beers are gaining more and more popularity

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Alcohol-free wines and beers are gaining more and more popularity

In 2022, the global soft drink market reached worth US$22 billion.

Non-alcoholic beverages are gaining more and more popularity in Canada. Leading brewers are launching such products, and specialty producers are coming up with new beverages. Several observers claim that it has become more socially acceptable to be “sober and curious”.

Ten years ago, if you brought non-alcoholic beer at a party, we were asked if we were sick or pregnant, recalls Nicolas Gagnon-Oosterwaal, president and co-founder of the Montreal microbrewery Sober Carpenter. But today the trend is completely reversed.

Mr. Gagnon-Oosterwaal adds that his industry has come a long way but still has room for strong growth.

According to Global Market Insights, the global market non-alcoholic beverages is worth more than US$22 billion in 2022. Its value could double over the next decade.

The boom that craft beers have seen over the past five to 10 years will be repeated over the next five to 10 years for non-alcoholic beverages, Gagnon-Oosterwaal predicts.

< p class="e-p">Alcohol-free beers have been around since the Middle Ages; attempts were made to popularize them during Prohibition in the United States. The Shirley Temple, that famous mocktail, was created nearly 100 years ago. However, companies found it difficult to produce a non-alcoholic beer that could also be tasty.

German brewery Clausthaler came up with the solution in the late 1970s. Instead of removing the alcohol from beer, they discovered that fermentation could be stopped before the sugars turned into alcohol.

Over 40 years later, the choice is vast. You can buy red, blond, white beers, stouts and India Pale Ale. There are also ciders and red, white or rosé wine, without alcohol. Some soft drinks mimic the taste of rum, gin or absinthe.

Many products contain a little alcohol, 0.5% or less. Some others, like kombucha, don't have it at all.

Joël Grégoire, of the marketing research firm Mintel, suggests that the younger generations seem to be at the heart of this growth in the non-alcoholic beverage market. He points out that many consumers have not necessarily given up alcohol but want to reduce their consumption.

In 2021, a Statistics Canada study found that one in five Canadians were drinking less than before the pandemic. The proportion climbed to 33% among young people aged 15 to 29.

From the point of view of sociability, alcohol is difficult to replace, notes Mr. Grégoire . This is why non-alcoholic versions of beer or wine are more appealing than a soft drink, for example.

“It allows those who have chosen not to drink alcohol, for whatever reason, to have an uplifting experience.

— Joël Grégoire, marketing research firm Mintel

Beer appears to be the most popular soft drink, followed by wine.

< p class="e-p">Beer Canada estimates that the volume of sales of non-alcoholic beer is growing faster than that of other alcoholic beverages, at 22 to 25%.

This organization says brewers have made big investments in new production methods. They can bring a wide variety of products to market without sacrificing taste.

today are looking to invent new ways to make these products.

For example, Sober Carpenter has found a way to make cider without alcohol. The brewer has also started selling limited quantities of more specialty beers.

Mr. Gagnon-Oosterwaal doesn't believe soft drinks are just a fad. Like meat substitutes, the soft drink industry will continue to grow and improve.

The trend to make healthier decisions, including reducing alcohol consumption, is not going away any time soon.

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